What is a Ward In Lacrosse? (The Full Guide)

What is a Ward in lacrosse?

It’s a technical foul where a lacrosse player in possession of the ball uses his free hand or arm or any other part of his body to hold, push or control the direction of the movement of the lacrosse stick or body of another player. 

In other words, it’s where you use your free hand to push away your defender to gain separation. 

Watch below for a quick example of what a ward looks like:

Hi I’m Jake, and I’m a lacrosse player and coach. A common question players and parents ask me is “what is warding off in lacrosse?”

Today I want to answer all your warding questions, so you can understand exactly what warding means. Warding can be confusing, so read along to make sure you know what is and what isn’t considered a ward. 

Is warding a penalty in lacrosse? 

A ward is a technical foul and not a penalty. 

This means that a player who commits a ward does not serve any time in the penalty box. Instead, the opposing team immediately gets possession of the ball and play quickly resumes. 

Here’s the general process for what happens when a ward is called during a lacrosse game: 

  • Player commits a ward 
  • Referee blows whistle and indicates a warding foul was committed 
  • Ball carrier immediately drops the ball where he’s standing
  • Opposing team gets possession of the ball, and play resumes. 

Can you ward with two hands on the lacrosse stick? 

Yes, if two hands are on your stick, you can push a defender away. 

Warding only happens when you take one hand off the stick and use it to push off a defender. 

I’d encourage you to learn how to push off with two hands. It’s a great offensive move if you can pull it off. This video explains a 2-handed pushoff well. 

Can you use your free hand in lacrosse? 

Yes, you can use your free hand to guard or protect your stick, as long as it is stationary and not used to push off your defender. 

Remember that you cannot cover your lacrosse stick with your hand, just use it as stationary protection. 

This 1-handed cradling video shows you the proper technique if you’re struggling to understand: 

Can you drop your shoulder in lacrosse? 

Yes, you can drop your shoulder to make contact with a lacrosse player. This is called a bull dodge in lacrosse, and it’s completely legal.

Watch this video below to understand how to perform a bull dodge.

Remember that you can be called for a penalty while performing a bull dodge if your actions are excessively violent. You can avoid a penalty by making sure to not drop your head and make head-to-head contact with a player.

Can you stiff arm in lacrosse?

No, you cannot stiff arm in lacrosse. Stiff arms are illegal. Any contact made with your arm to control a defender’s body or stick is considered a ward.  

In football or rugby, stiff arms might be legal, but in lacrosse, you cannot stiff arm. 

As mentioned previously, you can hold your free arm out as long as it’s stationary. 

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